Q. Dear Twig: What's the stuff that comes out of the back end of a worm called?
A. Is this a trick question? Yes? No? No? OK. The stuff that comes from a worm's back end indeed has an actual name. In fact it has a couple of them. And they don't rhyme with toody or moop or gung. Though that would be cool if they did. One of them rhymes with flanure.
So. You can call them castings.
Or you can call them worm manure.
Or you can call them vermicompost. "Vermi" is Latin for worm.
Just don't call them late for dinner. And also, probably, don't eat them for dinner. (Even hot sauce didn't help, blech.) But, yes, you can feed them to plants for their dinner. In fact that's good advice. Full of natural, wormy goodness — digested organic matter, nutrients and millions of helpful microbes — castings help make plants grow great. Garden stores sell them as plant food — fertilizer.
Yep, worms and worm doodoo do good things for plants. And also for soil and for water. Just how they do it you can find out on Earth Day. Ohio State's free Scarlet, Gray and Green Fair (Wooster, April 22, 1-7 p.m.) has hooked an exhibit called "Earthworms and Water." You'll round up worms. Learn the types. And dig how they do what they doo!
P.S. Unearth more fair facts: http://www.wcsen.org/WCSGGF/. I wriggle with anticipation!
Wormy/vermi sources included: Ohio State University Extension's "Rearing Earthworms" fact sheet, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2133.html; North Carolina A&T State University's "Earthworm Composting" 4-H activity guide (nice!) (ages 9-12), http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fourh/old/publications/curriculum/wildlife/9-12-worms.pdf; and New Mexico State's "Vermicomposting" fact sheet, http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-164.pdf.
"Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," published by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, the research and outreach arms, respectively, of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. It's written at a 4th-grade reading level.
For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, firstname.lastname@example.org, (330) 263-3776.